For 100 years from the end of the 19th century reducing machines of the type exhibited here in the Royal Mint Museum were a key element in the process of making dies. Acting like a three-dimensional pantograph, the machine traced the details of an electrotype copy of an artist’s plaster model and by means of a horizontal bar transferred the movements of the tracer to a cutter at the other end of the machine to generate a steel punch at the reduced size required. It has now been superseded by modern computer technology.
One of the most familiar images of the Royal Mint’s reducing machines in action dates from 1933 and offers a rare view of the Reducing Room with its high glass roof and rows of electrotypes on the walls. Surviving as an original glass negative, the image lends itself to massive enlargement and it was the use of a very large reproduction in an exhibition in London that enabled two visitors to identify the craftsman in the photograph as the long-serving Alfred Patrick Tims.